The jumpers at Warwick take centre stage and our resident tipster has his eye on a trio of runners
The new turf flat season is on hold until Musselburgh on Good Friday, meaning jumps racing is back to the fore for the next few days.
I’m not complaining as there is far more form to go on and the 2m4f handicap chase at Warwick (3.25pm) is just the sort of race I like to bet on. All nine runners can be given a chance of sorts but the one that interests me most is Venetia Williams’ DRUMSHAMBO, especially as he’s available to back at 12/1.
Form figures of P3P4P coming into this suggest he’s an in-and-out character who you’d do well to swerve, but there are good grounds for thinking this could be one of his going days. His most recent start came at Newbury just nine days ago in the race won by Carruthers and before that he’d finished fourth in a competitive handicap at Ludlow, where he faded badly after jumping the last. Both of those starts came over three miles plus and it’s clear that distance stretches his stamina to the limit.
Back in trip today and presumably none the worse for his pulled up effort last time, he could well take advantage of a slipping handicap mark. Rated 148 in his prime, he lines up today off a lowly rating of 129, meaning he gets weight from all bar one of his rivals. Sunday’s rain which has turned the going back to “soft” is another thing in his favour as he goes best with some cut, and the application of first-time blinkers may also have a positive effect. That’s more than enough to warrant a bet at double-figure odds.
Having backed SAINT JOHN HENRY on both his last two starts at Bangor, which have resulted in impressive wins, I’m not going to desert him in his hat-trick bid in the 3m1f handicap hurdle (4.00pm) at the Midlands venue. The handicapper has raised him a further 11lb for last month’s seven-length success over Quel Elite, with the useful Mackerye Road back in third, and he’s competing off a career-high perch of 124 here. However, the five-year-old has not stopped improving this season and there could well be more to come from him. A strong stayer who likes the mud, he will again have his ideal conditions and, with some decent sorts taking him on and making the market, he’s a very backable 11/4.
I like the way trainer Chris Gordon places his horses and his COOLKING will relish the stamina test provided by the 3m2f handicap chase (4.30pm). The eight-year-old showed a good level of form when trained by Lawney Hill but rather last his way, and he was having his first start for his current yard when second in the Devon National at Exeter early last month. That was a big step up on previous efforts this season and with Gordon having had another month to work on him and off the same mark here, he’s fancied to return to winning ways against just four rivals.
The best of these and by some way looks to be Alan McCabe’s Hi Vic, who has won both his chase starts under Rules, including a seven-length success at Southwell last time. That was a poor contest, though, and the handicapper has taken no chances by raising him 12lb, meaning he gives 3lb to the selection. That may well prove decisive.